Beavers come through with 'successful' recruiting year
CORVALLIS — Observations from Oregon State's letter-of-intent press conference Wednesday at Valley Football Center …
• There were no surprises, and only one disappointment, on signing day.
Actually, the disappointment came the night before, when George Moore of College of San Mateo — the nation's top-ranked junior-college offensive lineman — chose Oregon over the Beavers.
But on Wednesday, the Beavers added 18 names to their 2017 recruiting class list of 23 players, along with preferred walk-on defensive end Jaelen Bush of Lacey, Washington, and offensive lineman Josh Bowcut of Sherwood, who will go on a two-year church mission and won't count on this year's list.
Gary Andersen seemed relieved and excited about the group he and his staff put together.
"A very successful day," said Andersen, beginning his third season as Oregon State's head coach. "Throw on the highlight tape of the kids from this recruiting class and, if you know much about football, you'll agree those are talented young men.
"Now what they do and how they grow and how they put themselves into position to compete in the Pac-12, time will tell."
• Oregon State went heavy on the secondary (seven), receivers (five) and offensive linemen (five, plus Bowcut) based on need.
"Last year, it was outside linebackers," Andersen said. "This year, with defensive backs, we had to grow in number, length and speed. We did that. That was big for us.
"We wanted to create competition at the wide receiver position. We recruited some high-level young men and landed them. And in the offensive line, we needed to get those kids to up our numbers."
• The Beavers bolstered their secondary with four safeties and three cornerbacks, though none from the JC ranks. All will get the opportunity to play immediately, at least on special teams.
Sherwood's David Morris leads a group of safeties that includes TraJon Cotton from Sacramento, Jeffrey Manning from Lakewood, California, and Charles "Moku" Watson from Wahiawa, Hawaii. "They all have juice," Andersen said. "It's a special group."
Andersen loves the speed of the three cornerbacks — Isaiah Dunn of Antioch, Calif., Justin Gardner of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Kaleb Hayes of San Bernardino, California.
At receiver, early high school graduates Isaiah Hodgins of Oakley, California, and Kolby Taylor of Chandler, Arizona, are enrolled in school and will participate in spring practice.
"I expect them to be players who can be contributors in the fall," Andersen said. "That's the plan."
The other receivers are highly touted Quantino Allen of Belle Glade, Fla., JC transfer Aaron Short from Sierra (California) College and 5-6, 150-pound Arex "Champ" Flemings of Altadena, California.
Allen is a burner who averaged 44.3 yards on kickoff returns as a senior and is a sprinter in track and field.
"Tino is very explosive young man," Andersen said. "He might be faster on the field than he is on the track. When I did my home visit, it reminded me of going into (OSU running back Artavis Pierce's) home. Other schools were coming after him, but it was, 'We're going to Oregon State, because that's where we said we're going to go.'"
Andersen on Flemings: "If he walked in here right now, he'd be the focal point in the room in five minutes. And he's a playmaker. You'll say he's little, and that's the first thing he wants you to say about him, because all it will do is piss him off."
• The Beavers lost a pair of verbal commits at running back — T.J. Green and Isaiah Miller — in the weeks leading up to signing day. But the newly hired receivers coach and pass game coordinator, Jason Phillips, helped land a pair of able replacements from Texas in 6-foot, 190-pound B.J. Baylor and 5-9, 190-pound Calvin Tyler.
Baylor rushed for 1,997 yards and 24 touchdowns and also had four TD receptions as a senior (his mother is cousin to Jacquizz and James Rodgers). Tyler, ranked the 18th-best all-purpose back by 24/7 Sports, rushed for 2,861 yards (most in the state of Texas) and 29 scores as a senior.
"Coach Phillips found two special running backs," Andersen said. "We evaluated them with our own system, they passed every (test) with flying colors, and we were able to get those kids in this program."
• Oregon State landed three in-state players — Morris, Bowcut and Central Catholic O-lineman Travis Mackay — but Andersen would prefer more from Oregon and Washington.
"Would I like to see more numbers from the Northwest? Absolutely," the OSU coach said. "We'll continue to work like crazy on that."
Including walk-ons, Andersen hopes to have 25 in-state players on his roster.
"We would like to keep it between 25 and 30," he said.
• Andersen said players who had given verbal commits to Oregon State were among his best recruiters.
"It's been interesting to listen to that in home visits," he said. "There is no doubt that within this class, they recruited each other. I encourage that. I can't tell them to do that, but there's nothing more powerful than the kids recruiting the kids. I want that; I like that."
• During his remarks to the media, Andersen mentioned two factors that helped in recruiting — the $42-million Valley Football Center renovation, which is scheduled for completion in April, and the "Beyond Football" program, which connects alums in the business world with student-athletes to help prepare them for a professional career after football.
"The new facility was big for us," Andersen said. "It's not completed, but people can see what it is now. It's vital they can walk through the new locker room and see the coaches office and the players' lounge. It puts us in position to want to show people what we have when they come on a visit. The first year, we didn't show them the locker room. If they asked, we acted like we didn't hear. Now it's a highlight.
"Our 'Beyond Football' program is unbelievable with what it's done the last two years. The opportunity boosters give us to have it allows us to put kids to be in position to be successful past football. It's a huge part of our recruiting tool.'
• Andersen is in favor of the movement to create an early high school signing date in December — in conjunction with the JC signing date — in addition to the one in February.
"It's a fantastic idea, one I've been in favor of for five years," he said. "I hope it happens. it's good for the young men. It's great for them to be able to sign that piece of paper and clears up the whole recruiting process.
"(NCAA rules) have already taken enough days recruiting away from (coaches) and condensed the time frame as far as the number of days you can be on the road. If those kids were to sign in December, it removes them if they're not on your board. And if they're on your board, you don't have to go see them every week. (Coaches') time production can be much more effective.
"Plus, the amount of money it would save universities would blow your mind."
2017 Oregon State signees
Jake Luton, 6-6, 235, Ventura (Calif.) College
Aidan Willard, 6-2, 185, Napa, Calif.
Benjamin "BJ" Baylor, 6-0, 190, Wharton, Texas
Calvin Tyler, 5-9, 190, Beaumont, Texas
Quantino Allen, 5-11, 200, Belle Glade, Fla.
Arex Flemings, 5-6, 150, Altadena, Calif.
Isaiah Hodgins, 6-4, 210, Oakley, Calif.
Aaron Short, 6-0, 200, Sierra (California) College
Kolby Taylor, 5-11, 195, Chandler, Ariz.
x-Josh Bowcutt, 6-6, 280, Sherwood
Onesimus Clarke, 6-4, 325, Waianae, Hawaii
Clay Cordasco, 6-6, 330, Los Angeles Valley College
Travis Mackay, 6-6, 270, Central Catholic
Justin Sattelmaier, 6-7, 310, Palomar (Calif.) College
Brock Wellsfry, 6-6, 285, Pasco, Wash.
y-Jaelen Bush, 6-6, 225, Lacey, Wash.
Craig Evans, 6-3, 330, Arizona Western
Kesi Ah-Hoy, 6-0, 215, Kahuku, Hawaii
Isaiah Dunn, 6-0, 175, Antioch, Calif.
Justin Gardner, 6-1, 170, Charlotte, N.C.
Kaleb Hayes, 6-0, 175, San Bernardino, Calif.
TraJon Cotton, 6-1, 185, Sacramento
Jeffrey Manning, 6-1, 195, Lakewood, Calif.
David Morris, 6-2 1/2, 200, Sherwood
Charles "Moku" Watson, 6-2, 180, Wahiawa, Hawaii
x-will go on two-year church mission